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Travellers need more places to camp legally says South Cambridgeshire council

By Ben Comber

Travellers in private land in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Travellers in private land in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

There's a national need for more short-term stopping places for gypsies and travellers, says South Cambridgeshire housing leader.

South Cambridgeshire District Council is also calling for more powers to move on travellers with the aim of avoiding costly enforcement issues when an illegal camp is set up in the area.

The call comes as a government consultation considering what powers councils need to deal with such issues ended on Friday.

In its response to the government, South Cambridgeshire said enforcement alone is not the answer as it does not provide a place to stay for gypsies and travellers who need to move around for work, or to visit unwell relatives in hospital.

Cllr Hazel Smith, lead for housing on the district council, said: “We have a choice here either just to look at short-term fixes or to change the law in a way that will provide a solution into the future.

“This is not a South Cambridgeshire matter, this is a national debate that government needs to take the lead on.”

In a single year, up to March 2018, there were 200 cases of illegal encampments across Cambridgeshire – 99 of these needed bailiffs to carry out evictions. Evictions are usually paid by the landowner at an average cost of just over £1,000.

The council said existing powers are “slow and cumbersome” and officers are unable to get the identities of people illegally encamped to pursue action in courts.

Illegal travellers’ camps have recently been reported in Milton and Cambourne. The latest was in Thorpe Way, Cambridge, where earlier this week there were nine caravans.


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